Edgy sellers race to seal Croisette deals, head home

CANNES — A sense of urgency took hold at the Mipcom TV trade show Monday in the wake of the U.S. bombing raids in Afghanistan, with American buyers and sellers bent on getting business done — and getting home.

French Culture Minister Catherine Tasca officially opened the mart, cutting the ribbon at one entrance to the Palais des Festivals while harried TV execs were frisked by security guards at another.

Floor traffic in the convention hall was lighter than in previous years, which made the heavy security measures less onerous than they might have been. Reed Midem topper Xavier Roy told Daily Variety that “extra measures” included additional plainclothes guards and bag checking at hotels.

Another Midem official pointed out that Mipcom delegates were staying calm. “They know that Kabul isn’t at the end of the Croisette,” he said.

Paramount Intl. TV prexy Gary Merenzi and Fox Intl. TV exec VP Marion Edwards were the most high-profile no-shows among the Hollywood majors.

By the end of the day, Disney’s foreign sales arm, BVI-TV, said it had licensed the broadcast rights to the Emmy-nommed miniseries “Anne Frank” to Channel Four in the U.K. Sales of Yank minis and TV movies are traditionally few and far between in the picky British market.

The Mouse House also inked a deal with South Africa’s satcaster M-Net for new drama series “Alias,” one of the few debuting series Stateside that has a good ratings story to tell Mipcom-goers. Deal with M-Net also includes the new comedies “Scrubs” and “Bob Patterson” as well as the minis “Stephen King’s Rose Red” and “Anne Frank.” M-Net also renewed the returning series “Once and Again.”

On the Universal stand, sales execs closed a deal for features and TV movies with London-based niche channel provider Zone Vision, whose footprint covers mostly Eastern Europe. This agreement is for Zone Vision’s new pay TV service in Turkey called Showtime and includes movies “Born on the Fourth of July” and “Apollo 13.”

The Hollywood major also pacted with the Israeli cable provider Jasmine TV for rights to diverse movies, telepics and direct-to-video features.

Belinda Menendez, making her Mipcom debut as co-prexy of Universal’s international sales efforts, said the deal would support “Jasmine’s efforts in Israel’s emerging pay TV market.”

Top American cablers also clinched deals on opening day: Discovery unveiled a half-dozen deals, including those with Sweden’s Kanal 5 and Venezuela’s Radio Caracas TV, for its programming blocs featuring “The Crocodile Hunter.”

Main rival National Geographic TV acquired exclusive rights to the World Bank’s extensive footage related to developing countries and cultures plus countries in the Asia-Pacific, Middle Eastern, African and Latino regions. All footage will be digitized at NGT and cataloged according to content.

In other deals:

  • Carlton America, the U.S. TV arm of the British conglom, has partnered with Fox TV Pictures to jointly develop a contempo version of the 1978 sci-fi thriller “Capricorn One,” to which Carlton owns the rights. Deal is part of Carlton’s strategy to identify and produce projects based on titles housed in its 18,000-hour library.

  • Hallmark Channel’s international feeds announced agreements for movies and series for its spinoffs around the world. Among them, the Taiwan feed has picked up 15 movies from Paramount and the Central European feed has acquired 150 episodes of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” from CBS Broadcast Intl.

    Scuttlebutt around the Palais is that few suppliers are getting the increases in prices for movies and series to which they were accustomed in the ’90s. Most observers believe prices for product are flat, if not actually down from last year.

(Alison James contributed to this report.)

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